Redragon GAREN K656 PRO Review Purple Switch Hot Swap Keyboard

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Inspired by the legendary warrior Garen, the Redragon K656 Garen PRO is a 95% style mechanical gaming keyboard with 100 keys, featuring a cool semi transparent case that allows the RGB lighting to shine through the bottom of the keyboard.

The K656 Garen PRO has a standard QWERTY layout with numpad and dedicated media keys, making the K656 Garen PRO just as functional as a full size keyboard, which typically comes with 104 or 108 keys. To remap keys and program macros on the K656 Garen PRO, you need access to the Redragon software. The K656 Garen PRO comes with pre-lubed dummy switch stabs, double shot keycaps and Redragon dust-proof purple switches. These purple switches have a similar hard press tactile actuation as Outemu brown switches but with a shorter actuation travel distance (1.1mm) similar to low profile switches.

The RGBs produce a nice reflection against the metal top plate, making the top of the keyboard glow under the keycaps. The RGB brigthness isn't very bright though and, the stock keycaps have a non-transparent font that prevents the RGB lighting from shining through the keycaps.The K656 Garen PRO has a myriad of RGB effects to choose from too, including dynamic and static light effects. You can control the RGB effects and brightness from the keyboard but you will need to the Redragon software to customize the RGBs.

On the bottom of the K656 Garen PRO keyboard, you find a tiny slot (non-magnetized) for storing the included 2.4Ghz wireless dongle, as well as keyboard feet, which are rubberized and adjustable, letting you increase the keyboard height in two levels. The cable connection into the keyboard is via the USB-C port, which is deeply recessed into the keyboard. The K656 Garen PRO features PCB printed board styling lines on the bottom of the case, as well as a long groove for neatly routing the keyboard cable underneath to the right or left side of the keyboard.

The K656 Garen PRO keyboard measures 36cm long, 14.5cm deep and 3.5cm high without the feet riser legs. When using the tall feet risers, the height of the K656 Garen PRO is 5cm. With the short feet risers, the height is 4.5cm high. 
The height of the bottom row of keys is 3cm. The semi-transparent diffused plastic construction of the keyboard allows the RGB lighting to radiate and illuminate through the bottom of the keyboard. With RGBs ON, the battery life is around 10 hours via Bluetooth and 15 hours with the 2.4Ghz wireless dongle. The charging time is 6.5 hours. No quick charge support.

On the left side of the K656 Garen PRO keyboard, there is a large plastic switch for toggling between 2.4Ghz, OFF and Bluetooth modes. There are a total of 3 ways to connect the K656 Garen PRO keyboard and seamlessly switch between USB-C wired, BT 3.0/5.0, and 2.4 GHz wireless modes. In bluetooth mode, you can connect the K656 Garen PRO keyboard to up to 3 devices at the same time.

The Redragon K656 Garen PRO is designed to be versatile and compatible with various devices and operating systems. It fully supports both Windows and macOS, laptops, tablets, and gaming consoles. One of the key selling features of the Redragon K656 Garen PRO is the universal hot-swappable socket, which is compatible with most 3-pin and 5-pin switches on the market. This allows you to easily customize and replace switches without soldering. 
Another selling feature is the inclusion of noise-dampening foam positioned above the steel metal PCB plate, which effectively minimizes pinging/metallic noise, resulting in a deep bassy "THOCK" sound when typing.

In terms of design, the K656 Garen PRO's compact form factor and dedicated media keys differentiate it from models like the Kumara K552, which lacks media keys. The K656 Garen PRO's programmable macro keys also give it an edge over models such as the Draconic K530 PRO, which does not offer this feature. Because of the hot-swappable socket too, the K656 Garen PRO is easier to customize than other Redragon boards such as the Azure K652 and Pollux K628 PRO, which lack this feature.

Potential deal breakers
  • No palm/wrist pad
  • Flimsy switch puller
  • Heavy to transport (weighs 1kg)
  • Non transparent font keycaps
  • Long charging time
  • No fast charging

Selling points
  • 20 different RGB light effects
  • Compact full size
  • Low profile switch performance
  • Redragon software support
  • Adjustable feet risers
  • Bluetooth multipoint for up to 3 devices
  • Cross platform compatibility
  • Keyboard cable management
  • Semi transparent case
  • Quick access to multimedia controls
  • Double shot ABS keycaps
  • 3pin/5pin hot swap compatibility
  • Onboard RGB and brightness control
  • Programmable macro keys
  • Metal top plate
  • Numpad
  • 95% layout
  • Sleep mode
  • Onboard battery indicator
  • Switch sound dampener
Accessories included are a switch/keycap puller and 1.5 meter rubber keyboard cable with dual plugs for connecting the K656 Garen PRO to a USB-A or USB-C device. The K656 Garen PRO is also availalble with Outemu switches (blue, brown, red and low profile red). You can buy the K656 Garen PRO from RedragonShop. Check out review of Elf Pro K649 transparent keyboard, Caraxes Pro K644 SE Wireless and POLLUX K628 PRO SE transparent keyboard.

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